Ease of Installation

As I mentioned in the introduction, despite having six new closed-loop liquid coolers to test, there are only two actual procedures as far as installing the waterblocks; the rest comes from the variations in mounting the fans to the radiators and in turn to the case itself.

NZXT and Corsair both provide detailed, fairly easy to follow instructions for assembly, and they both make the same suggestion that's great for them but potentially impractical for end users: they suggest mounting the fan as an intake in the back of your case, bringing cool outside air directly into the radiator. This is a wonderful idea in theory, but in practice something I've rarely seen implemented. With rare exception, cases are designed to bring cool air in through the bottom and front and exhaust it out of the top and back (where the radiator will go). Assuming you don't have a dedicated video card in your system, this is a great idea, but the instant you start putting components into your case you run the risk of severely mucking up the intended airflow design of the case. For what it's worth, I don't think I've seen any boutique systems in for review that have actually oriented their closed-loop coolers (or even any of their radiators) in this fashion.

As for the installation order, it's going to depend on how roomy your case is: if you're working in cramped quarters, you may want to install the waterblock first and then mount the radiator. If you have room, doing it the other way couldn't hurt. I typically mount the fan to the radiator before installing the radiator itself whenever possible.

Seen above is the Intel mounting system for the Asetek coolers. They employ a backplate that fits smartly around the socket's backplate, and from there installation is handled in one of two ways: the NZXT way, and the right way. NZXT includes a retention ring that plugs into the bottom of the waterblock to keep the piece on the left in place, but this isn't actually how the Asetek waterblocks are designed to be installed. The piece on the left screws into the mounting backplate, but you keep it loose. From there, you insert the waterblock between the notches, then twist it so the block is held in place by the notches. Then you tighten the screws, and it's held securely and evenly into place. Do not use an electric screwdriver; the plastic holding the mounting posts inside the backplate isn't the most durable, and it's very easy to strip it.

You can see how the block mounts into place in this installation of the NZXT Kraken X60.

Seen above two parts of the mounting system for the CoolIT/Corsair blocks. The piece on the left is a backplate that mounts behind the motherboard, but you have to slide the posts into position and unfortunately you can get an uneven installation due to the backplate potentially pressing against the socket's backplate (and the screws therein). From there, you install retention screws from above the motherboard into the posts. The bracket on the right then goes over the waterblock, and four screw caps then twist onto the retention screws.

You can get an idea of how it comes together from the image above.

Neither one of these mounting systems are perfect, but I can tell you personally that I do prefer Asetek's solution. The CoolIT one is a bit more prone to an uneven fit, which resulted in my actually doing some retests while testing these systems. Asetek's mount is ultimately simpler, easier to work with, and more likely to evenly press the waterblock against the heatspreader. At least as long as you follow the instructions Corsair/Asetek provide, and not the ones NZXT provides, which include a superfluous retention ring that has the open round piece attach to the waterblock instead of the backplate.

Introducing the 2013 Closed-Loop Cooler Line-Up Software: Corsair Link and NZXT Kraken Control
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  • AdamK47 - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    The Water 2.0 Extreme is also made by Asetek. How does this stack up agaist the NZXT Kraken X60? Reply
  • DrPi - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Yes, I'd like to see that too. Reply
  • Havor - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    As it's radiator is about double the thickness of the X60, the X60 has about 35% more surface area, and better preforming 140mm fans.

    Overall i think it will be a toss up, ware i personally place my bet on the Water 2.0 Extreme.
    Reply
  • tsponholz - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    I have the Water 2.0 Performance and I'm thoroughly pleased with it. I'd love to see this series put up against this group. Reply
  • jonjonjonj - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I agree. I just got a water2.0 today but haven't installed it yet. It was on sale for $45. How can you beat that. Reply
  • EzioAs - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    This thing performs extremely good. Silence and cool. Maybe it's one of the benefits of 2x140mm. Corsair should've move to 140mm for the H100i/H80i when they updated it. On the other hand, choices for aftermarket 140mm fans are much lower than 120mm even though that's where the market should be heading to as you said.

    You said in the opening that not a lot of cases have a 140mm fan mount and dual 140mm are even less but for people who are buying these should have decent case already and most newer cases in the mid to high end segment can at least support a single 140mm.

    I didn't see you mention about the fins on any of the rads. Any chance you could clarify that?
    Reply
  • phamhlam - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Most new case come with 140mm standard for top and rear exhaust. This allows for both installation of 140mm and 120mm fans/radiator. I would be surprise to see a quality case manufacture not include one. Even mini-ITX and mini-ATX case use 140mm fan mounts. Reply
  • EzioAs - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Yes I did mention that chassis these days have a 140mm fan mounts but what I was trying to point out is that most people who wants to spend $80+ for a cpu cooler should at least have a decent quality case already and quality case should have 140mm fan mounts.

    What I really want to know is about the fins on the rads. It's almost impossible for the performance gap for the X60 and the H100i to be that wide seeing as it's just a slight increase in surface area and both coolers seem to have quality fans already. I'm guessing the X60 has a higher fins per inch rad than the H100i.
    Reply
  • CaptainDoug - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    This is exactly the review I've been looking for. This site puts out the best reviews. Reply
  • phamhlam - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    They also have the best benchmark list and very technical articles. Reply

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